Despite the hiatus from the blog, my column for the West Bend Daily News has been running like clockwork. Although it is a slow clock that only chimes on Tuesdays. Here it is.
Much has been said about President Barack Obama spending his time golfing while the world burns. While the imagery may have been exaggerated, the reality is close to the mark. At the very least, as Obama was on Martha s Vineyard enjoying the links, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion troops marched into Ukraine.
This step by Russia has been coming for a while and is a direct result of America’s failed foreign policy under Obama. It has long been known that President Vladimir Putin, the ex-KGB agent and Communist strong man, has a passion to return Russia to its former glory as a world power.
In order to advance that goal, Putin staged the invasion and assimilation of Crimea earlier this year. The formula was simple and has been used by tyrants from Mao to Hitler. First, Russia funded and fomented Russian sympathizers in Ukraine to rebel. Second, those sympathizers asked Russia for help to protect them. Third, Russia takes over.
The same thing is playing out for the rest of Ukraine as I write this. Russia instigated and funded a rebellion against the Ukrainian government. Then Russia sent in soldiers and supplies to protect the rebels under the pretense that they are ethnic Russians being persecuted by the Ukrainian government. The next step is obvious. Russia intends to annex all of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Obama has watched this unfold and done nothing. Even when the rebels with Russian missiles shot a civilian airliner out of the sky, Obama did nothing. Now that the Russian invasion is advancing further, Obama held a news conference and promised to perhaps gradually levy some more sanctions on Russia, if the Europeans agree. Putin is acting with impunity precisely because he knows that Obama will not do anything.
Lest one thinks that Ukraine is none of America’s business, it most certainly is. Ukraine is rich with agricultural, manufacturing and natural resources that will vastly strengthen Russia’s position in the world and allow it to dominate European and world affairs. Furthermore, we must not forget that the United States promised to protect Ukraine’s sovereign borders. In 1994 after the breakup of the Soviet Union, President Bill Clinton signed the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances committing the United States to protect Ukraine in exchange for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons.
By breaking that promise, Obama is signaling to our nation’s allies that we will not honor our commitments. The ramifications will be long-reaching.
Why would any nation promise to give up any weapons based on Obama s promises? Iran? Syria? North Korea? And even longtime allies like Japan are rumbling about abandoning their decades-long disarmament because the promise of American security is no longer unassailable. Obama s abandonment of Ukraine to the Russian horde will lead to a more dangerous world.
Just across the Black Sea in the Middle East, another Obama foreign policy debacle is coming to the fore. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has taken control of large swaths of Syria and Iraq with barbaric consequences for all who opposed them. Once again, Obama’s unwillingness to act led to the crisis the world now faces.
When Syrians launched their civil war against the dictator Bashar al-Assad, Obama stood by and refused to support them. After Obama famously drew his red line saying that America would retaliate if Assad used chemical weapons, Assad promptly used them and Obama’s red line was proven to mean nothing. When the rebels were infiltrated and taken over by Islamist terrorist organizations, Obama still did nothing.
Meanwhile, in Iraq, Obama rushed to remove American soldiers for domestic political reasons leaving a vacuum of power and a weak Iraqi government in their wake.
The result is that vacuum is being filled by ISIL. Over two weeks after Obama stopped briefly on his way to a golf game to express sympathy for the vicious beheading of an American journalist, James Foley, by ISIL, Obama again tool to the microphone to address the issue. He declared that we don t have a strategy yet on ISIL and did not give any time frame for when we would have one. Meanwhile, he is spending American treasure and risking American lives on air strikes that he has admitted do not support any broader strategy other than, perhaps, allowing Obama to cast the illusion that he is doing something.
But why does America not have a strategy for ISIL yet? We have known about their growth and advances for years. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said more than a week ago, They’re beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess, they are tremendously well-funded. This is beyond anything that we ve seen. So we must prepare for everything.
Why haven t we? With all of the resources of the federal government who have known about ISIL for years, why is there not a strategy? It is a dereliction of duty on a presidential scale that America does not have a plan to deal with ISIL even as their followers are tweeting threats from America s streets.
History remembers Nero as playing his lyre as Rome burned. History will remember Obama for his handicap.
(Owen Robinson’s column runs Tuesdays in the Daily News.)